According to estimates by the CDC, 48 million people are infected by foodborne illness every year. Of these people, 128,000 need to be hospitalized and 3,000 die. The bacteria that cause foodborne illness aren’t visible to the human eye, so people often overlook them when cleaning. While pregnant women, elderly people, young children, and people with weaker immune systems are more susceptible to food poisoning, anyone can become sick from it. Plus, there are more than 250 types of bacteria, parasites, and viruses that cause foodborne illness.
In addition to bacteria, mold and chemical exposure in the kitchen cause illness. Below, we’ll take a look at some common kitchen mistakes that could make your family sick. The CDC recommends proper cleanliness, separation of foods, cooking, and chilling foods. In addition to following these rules, things like changing your dish-washing routine, avoiding re-using hand towels, and other strategies will help keep the people in your life healthy. Keep reading to identify some mistakes you might be making that could be dangerous to your loved ones.
1. Do Away with Your Dirty Kitchen Sponge
Your kitchen sponge is the perfect place for bacteria to grow. Research shows that an incredible 19.6 billion bacteria are living on the average kitchen sponge. It’s warm, wet, and comes into contact with bacteria from food, your skin, and kitchen counters. Plus, it’s made of porous materials and there are plenty of hidden areas that bacteria can grow. If you don’t have a dishwasher, the best way to clean your dishes is a brush. Dish brushes don’t hold liquid as well as a sponge, so they dry faster. Bacteria also live for a shorter period of time on brushes.
Some people also try microwaving their sponge with the hopes that getting it hot enough will kill the bacteria. Unfortunately, microwaving your kitchen sponge only kills the weaker strains of bacteria. Plus, it makes room for more bacteria (usually the stronger strains you couldn’t kill) to move through your sponge. For people that do want to use sponges, regular replacement is the only sure way to kill bacteria. Disinfecting a sponge by putting it in the laundry or dishwasher, microwaving it, or boiling it usually isn’t effective.